In this timely tale of immigration, two cousins learn the importance of family and friendship.
A year of discoveries culminates in a performance full of surprises, as two girls find their own way to belong.
Mexico may be her parents’ home, but it’s certainly not Margie’s. She has finally convinced the other kids at school she is one-hundred percent American—just like them. But when her Mexican cousin Lupe visits, the image she’s created for herself crumbles.
Things aren’t easy for Lupe, either. Mexico hadn’t felt like home since her father went North to find work. Lupe’s hope of seeing him in the United States comforts her some, but learning a new language in a new school is tough. Lupe, as much as Margie, is in need of a friend.
Little by little, the girls’ individual steps find the rhythm of one shared dance, and they learn what “home” really means. In the tradition of My Name is Maria Isabel—and simultaneously published in English and in Spanish—Alma Flor Ada and her son Gabriel M. Zubizarreta offer an honest story of family, friendship, and the classic immigrant experience: becoming part of something new, while straying true to who you are.
Working with a potentially rich multicultural family story, Ada (Under the Royal Palms) and first-time author Zubizarreta instead deliver a timely but lifeless novel about a Mexican-American girl in California and her newly arrived Mexican cousin. The 11-year-olds Margarita, who insists on being called Margie and regularly refers to her Texas birth, and Lupe, who barely speaks English come across as little more than mouthpieces for the authors' message. While the opening chapter, in which Margarita unhappily brings Lupe to her own classroom, is promising, the authors rely too much on descriptions and summaries, forgoing opportunities to "show, don't tell." Margarita's dismay over losing her hard-won Americanism is realistically age-appropriate, but Lupe seems overly mature. Facing her long-lost father, she thinks: "The same painful longings that had nourished all of her fantasies were now fueling her anger against this man who seemed to enter into and disappear from her life so easily." Margarita's eventual appreciation of her heritage and Lupe's adjustment to her new country are predictable and too easily come by to have true emotional resonance. A Spanish-language edition, Nacer Bailando, is available simultaneously. Ages 8 12.